T-Shirt Color Guide

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There are several key factors that make for memorable T-shirt designs. Some top elements to keep in mind include interesting artwork, a catchy or funny saying, and most importantly great color selection. When you are creating a custom T-shirt you may be tempted to splash all your favorite colors onto the design. Green shirt, red letters, purple artwork, more orange letters… it doesn’t take long for any design to become a mess of a rainbow when you are wildly adding colors for every new addition. Unfocused color selection not only looks bad, but it can run up production cost quickly without being a benefit to the overall design aesthetic. Lets take a quick look at how to effectively select colors.

You may remember learning the color wheel in art class. One of the simplest ways to to create contrast is to use colors that are opposite each other on the wheel. This can be especially helpful when you have words that you want to stand out. If there is too little contrast it will be hard for people to read your shirt, especially from a distance.


You can see that the shirt on the left has much more dynamic contrast than the shirt on the right. Also keep in mind that dark colors such as maroon and royal blue may look decent on a black shirt when working in the Design Studio, however the final printed result might appear darker than it first looked when designing on a vibrant computer screen.

When working in our design studio you will able to choose from thirty different ink colors. Although this is often more than enough choice for most orders we know that sometimes there might be a specific color you have in mind that is not listed. Send us a message in the design notes and we will work to see if we can get your specific color mixed up. The easiest way to communicate what color you want is to use the Pantone color match system (PMS).

Pantone color match is a universal system that assigns numbers to colors so that there is a shared consensus between designers on how to match up colors. For example if you tell us you want Pantone 15-5519, then we know you are talking about a specific color of turquoise. This can be especially important for a color shade like turquoise because there are several combinations of blue and green. We can also work to use special T-shirt inks such as neon colors, glitter ink, and even glow in the dark ink!

Having lots of colors can make your shirt a hit, just make sure that you are choosing colors that will appropriately compliment and contrast each other for the best effect. Have fun designing custom T-shirts!

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